Press Release

Illinois Humanities brings traveling world-class exhibitions to Jacksonville and Winchester November 20 – December 22, 2021

The exhibitions will highlight opportunities for civic action and results of that action, and the pursuit of civil rights by and for African Americans in Illinois.

Images of Voices and Votes exhibit

CHICAGO, NOVEMBER 12, 2021— Illinois Humanities is excited to announce the Jacksonville Area Museum will host Voices and Votes: Democracy in America, the newest Museum on Main Street exhibition from the Smithsonian Institution, 301 East State Street in Jacksonville, IL from Saturday, November 20, to Wednesday, December 22. Museum on Main Street is a program of the Smithsonian Institution and state humanities councils that shares world-class exhibitions with small communities.

Voices and Votes explores questions stemming from the leap of faith taken by the American revolutionaries who established a government that entrusted the power of the nation not in a monarchy but in its citizens. The exhibition explores the questions: Who has the right to vote, what are the freedoms and responsibilities of citizens, and whose voices will be heard?

Museum on Main Street’s “Voices and Votes: Democracy in America” exhibit opens on Saturday, November 20 at the Jacksonville Area Museum. The traveling exhibit may be seen during the museum’s regular hours of operation of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday through December 22.

“We’ve been open to the public less than two months, so to be chosen to host this prestigious exhibit is truly an honor,” said Jacksonville Area Museum Board Chairman David Blanchette. “’Voices and Votes’ tells the engaging story of our democracy and what it truly means, and the topic couldn’t be more relevant today.”

The Jacksonville Area Museum has developed a companion exhibit for “Voices and Votes” called “The Machinery of Democracy,” which uses original local artifacts to demonstrate how area citizens have exercised their democratic rights in the past.

Dr. Claire Jerry, Curator of Political History at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, will help welcome the exhibit with a special program at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, November 20 at Hamilton’s Banquet Hall, 110 North East, directly across the street from the museum. The presentation, entitled “The National is Local is National,” is free and open to the public.

While Voices and Votes is on exhibition in Jacksonville, a related exhibition, Illinois Freedom Project, will examine the pursuit of civil rights by and for African Americans in Illinois. Illinois Freedom Project will be available for viewing at the Old School Museum, 110 E Cherry St in Winchester.

“These exhibitions raise critical questions about how citizen participation – from revolution to suffrage, to protests and organizing – has shaped democracy in America. The six host institutions are cultural anchors in their communities and are ideally situated to host conversations about what it takes — and has taken in Illinois — to form ‘a more perfect union,’” said Gabrielle Lyon, Executive Director at Illinois Humanities.

Voices and Votes: Democracy in America is part of Museum on Main Street, a collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution and State Humanities Councils nationwide. It is based on an exhibition by the National Museum of American History. Support for Museum on Main Street has been provided by the United States Congress.

EXHIBITION SCHEDULE* // View exhibitions map here.

Voices and Votes: Democracy in America:*

  • July 19 – August 21, 2021: Madison County Historical Society, Edwardsville
  • August 28 – October 2, 2021: Bryan-Bennett Library, Salem
  • October 9 – November 13, 2021: Savanna Museum and Cultural Center, Savanna
  • November 20 – December 23, 2021: Jacksonville Area Museum, Jacksonville
  • January 1 – February 5, 2022: Vespasian Warner Public Library District, Clinton
  • February 12 – March 16, 2022: General John A. Logan Museum, Murphysboro

Illinois Freedom Project:*

  • July 17 – August 21, 2021: Wood River Museum, Wood River
  • August 28 – October 2, 2021: Bryan-Bennett Library, Salem
  • October 9 – November 13, 2021: York Township Public Library, Thomson
  • November 20 – December 18, 2021: Old School Museum, Winchester
  • January 1 – February 5, 2022: Vespasian Warner Public Library District, Clinton
  • February 12 – March 16, 2022: African American Museum of Southern Illinois, Carbondale

*Please consult host organizations’ websites to confirm schedules.


About Illinois Humanities

Illinois Humanities, the Illinois affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, is a statewide nonprofit organization that activates the humanities through free public programs, grants, and educational opportunities that foster reflection, spark conversation, build community, and strengthen civic engagement. We provide free, high-quality humanities experiences throughout Illinois, particularly for communities of color, individuals living on low incomes, counties and towns in rural areas, small arts and cultural organizations, and communities highly impacted by mass incarceration. Founded in 1974, Illinois Humanities is supported by state, federal, and private funds.

Learn more about Illinois Humanities at and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @ILHumanities.